July 24, 2014

Preponderance of the Great

"Sifu, I have a problem practicing the forms I learn in class when I am at home. The forms require more space than I have available, but even when I push furniture around to practice them I make more noise than my family will tolerate. What would you suggest?"

Hexagram #28 Ta Kua - Preponderance of the Great - relates to your problem. "The Judgment" says: 'The ridgepole sags to the breaking point. It furthers one to have somewhere else to go. Success."

The Image gives a clue to the answer: "Thus the superior man, when he stands alone, is unconcerned; and if he has to renounce the world, he is undaunted."

This clearly states that the practitioner, himself, is responsible for finding somewhere else to practice or, if he can't go elsewhere, that he remains in control of his situation.

Shaolin Kung Fu used to be credited as a "hard/external form" of martial arts, being that of "force against force" accomplished by brute strength. Later, towards the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D) three men, Zhue Yuen, Li Shou and Bai Yu Feng, designed a more balanced system of hard/external and soft/internal training which changed Shaolin Kung Fu forever. It was named Five Animals Kung Fu. The chosen animals were the Tiger and the Leopard (hard/external); the Snake and the Dragon (soft/internal); and the Crane which embraces both the hard/external and the soft/internal aspects of the martial arts.

So, if weather permits, practice outside in your yard, or in a vacant lot, or a park. When the weather is not favorable and you have to remain indoors, you can always be like the Crane with his leg up, meditatively working on balance and hand forms. There are many balance postures you can perfect, and the more silently you can practice them, the better. The Crane can be practiced anywhere. The important thing for you to remember is that you cannot defer practicing simply because you lack sufficient space to do the forms that you feel like doing. The discipline of the Wushi requires that if you cannot find a more accommodating space, you adapt to your surroundings and command the space you have. You cannot let the lack of space dictate the terms of your practice.

For the non Kung Fu practitioner, soft flowing meditative stance training is something you can always practice. Basics consisting of blocking, parrying, and striking require minimal space, but if you don't have even that much space, you can work on your horse stance or meditative exercises.

Keep the image of Tui/Sun in your mind: Tui (the joyous, lake) above Sun (the gentle, wind, wood). Think of water moving silently across wood. This will help you to keep your movements as noiseless as possible... which is to the Wushi's advantage, isn't it? 

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